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Incanto eatery delights

By Faythe Del Rosario, scene editor
On December 5, 2012

  • Raul Reyes, staff photographer. / The Advocate

There's nothing more satisfying than a delicious dining experience made with those eating in mind, especially by a renowned chef and his staff.
At Incanto, an Italian restaurant residing in the sleepy neighborhood of Noe Valley in San Francisco, executive chef Chris Cosentino and his team create a meal that is worth every penny. Cosentino is known for his offal cooking - the usage of organ meat, including the liver and heart.
Believing that every part of an animal should be used in cooking Cosentino feels that nothing should go to waste. He has also stated in numerous interviews that by using the whole animal, it may change the perception of how one chooses to eat meat when there is a face to it.
Offal cooking is supposed to promote sustainability while honoring the animal that was butchered. It is also a style of cooking that is becoming increasingly overlooked in the culinary world because often people would not order things made out of brains and tripe.
This has always set his restaurant apart from competitors this year on season four of the television show "Top Chef Masters." He won by being himself and putting his skill and passion into his cooking, raising $141,000 for the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research. Cosentino also made appearances on different cuisine programs on the Food Network in the last few years and the restaurant itself has also been featured on an episode of Anthony Bourdain's "No Reservations" in 2009.
Those who would want to take their significant other to a ravishing place to eat should be advised; this restaurant is not your average tacky Italian eatery. To enjoy a shared appetizer, individual drinks, separate entrées and a desert shared between two could cost well over $100 before tip. However, it is the price to pay for the freshest ingredients made to perfection in an atmosphere much more spectacular and grand than any chain restaurant.
The menu at Incanto changes daily due to the fact that the chef dedicates himself to using foods that are fresh and locally grown and sold at  markets including the San Francisco Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market.
The sample menu on the website gives an insight to what the sort of prices and food are to be expected, however, not until patrons arrive will they actually experience the treat at hand.
On a particular night, the braised duck leg and duck liver pâté crostini with roasted root vegetables entrée was absolutely amazing. For $26, the duck leg was so tender that the fork and knife easily cut through leaving nothing but bones on the plate.
One of the desserts, a chocolate cake with mint ice cream finished the night. The plate was small, cute and petite. It was the perfect amount of decadent chocolate to mix with the small, refreshing melting lump of ice cream.
Incanto is also one of the few restaurants in the country to charge a 5 percent service charge on the diner's bill to facilitate the wage inequities between servers and those behind the scenes bustling to wash dishes and prepare meals for people waiting to eat.
It shows that Costenino and co-owner Mark Pastore care about everyone who is working there. Often, those who are dining are unaware that the tips they are giving are only beneficial to the waiters, not truly acknowledging all who work hard to maintain the restaruant.
Not to say the customer service garners no applause. The wait staff is
extremely helpful and well trained to assist customers with their meal choices, explaining what sort of specials they have for the evening, refilling their water without being prompted to and even folding their napkins when going to the bathroom. This quality in Incanto's staff is much appreciated especially for those who are indecisive and have never experienced Italian food cooked in such a manner.
Inside, dark wooden tables and the rustic painted walls take people away from the neighboring hills of SF to a dimly lit getaway reminiscent of Italy.
It is somewhat loud inside because of the other busy customers also enjoying themselves, but it will not take away from what's on the plate and the people in one's party.
A slight downside to the dining experience could be the wait time to getting the entrée, however, it could be due to the fact on how packed the place can be on any given night.
The restaurant is certainly popular and its busy schedule requires a reservation ahead of time.
Incanto is located at 1550 Church Street in San Francisco and its telephone number is 415-641-4500, reservations can also be made by going on its website at incanto.biz.


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